The scenery isn't that bad; the problem is that it isn't that good, either, and it goes on for way too long.
Interstate 80 is the flattest route through the state, the preferred route of truckers, RV drivers, and pioneer wagon trains. Rather than cresting each of the myriad north-south mountain ranges comprising Nevada's "Basin and Range" geography, as highway 50 does, it follows the Humboldt river nearly all the way across the state as it skirts around the edges of each range.
Sometimes the billboards are funny. There was one proclaiming "Jesus Lives!", with an attribution underneath for adsforgod.org. Then in Winnemucca, a billboard advertised the smaller town of Battle Mountain:
Voted the armpit of America
by the Washington Post
"We didn't know you were looking!"
A bit before Battle Mountain, we passed the Thunder Mountain (something) Historical Site, which seemed to be a shack built up haphazardly of sticks and odd pieces of wood, decorated with whatever tschotchkes were handy. I weren't able to get a good look, driving by on the Interstate. I think I've found a picture on the web, though.
Elko is a nice place to stop, though. To begin with, it's full of Basque restaurants. I can only report on one, the excellent Nevada Dinner House.
Basque food is funny. Every Basque restaurant I've experienced has been very different; the only common element is that they all involve large quantities, especially the bottomless soup tureen. The Basque Cultural Center in south San Francisco approaches a fancy french restaurant, with appetizers like esgargot and entrees heavy on nicely done sauces. The severely overrated Woolgrowers, in Los Baños, serves uninspired mass-produced cafeteria food.
Elko's Nevada Dinner House has a simple, but varied, menu, heavy on steaks but with a good selection of seafood, pasta and other options. This is the second time we've eaten there, and both times we've been very impressed. My prime rib was about the best I've ever had; Dave's pork chops looked tempting too, with a nice herb crust on it (but nothing too foofy) and applesauce on the side. Salad, green beans, spaghetti in meat sauce, and french fries (er, "pommes frittes") accompanied the meal, along with the obligatory bottomless soup tureen (a moderately thick and tasty concoction involving barley, beans, carrots, and, I think, ham).
After dinner we went looking for a place to buy some soft drinks, and stumbled on a dollar store called "Honks" with a well-stocked sunglasses rack.
Then we retired to our motel room to bask.
[ 23:41 Sep 07, 2004 More travel/southpark | permalink to this entry ]